The life of a fasnacht

LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) – Ahead of Fat Tuesday this week, a Pennsylvania church is once again breaking out the fryers.

St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church makes thousands of fasnachts every year to raise money.

To get a good look at the process, this year Media General contributors followed one batch of dough from mix to sold.

The life of a donut is not an easy one.

“There’s a lot of things that go into making a process like this work,” said Luke Allwein, 17, a first-time volunteer.

It’s a rough and tumble upbringing among tens of thousands of siblings, as dry and wet ingredients spin in giant mixers, surrounded by a nonstop barrage of volunteer parenting.

“I got eight hours this morning and I did two hours last night,” said John Cram, “so I’ll be exhausted by the end of this, that’s for sure.”

The adolescent dough grows and stretches. “It’s work,” Cram said. “It’s hard work, but it’s fun.”

It heads to a dark, warm, damp room to mature.

“There’s a lot of things going on,” Allwein said. “It’s really hectic in here.”

Between 20 and 25 long minutes later, caretakers pull out the risen dough and start to chop, grabbing hunks of molten, premature fasnacht — a team effort to tear brother from brother.

“It feels good,” said Allwein. “You really feel like you’re part of a community when you’re putting in work here.”

Stacks of young doughnuts move down the line, a hole ripped in each, groups plunged into vats and pulled back out minutes later, older and wiser in the ways of peanut oil.

A dusting of sugar, and into boxes, brothers reunited. From start to finish, a batch takes about an hour and a half.

By the end of the third day of sales, 9,000 dozen fasnachts — 108,000 doughnuts will grow up here.

Families will wait hours to adopt them (briefly) for $9 a box.

“They’re amazing,” said 8-year-old Jacob Wolfe as he helped his mom carry four dozen to their car. “They’re like the best doughnuts in the world.”

And when they’re done, the aging process begins again.

“Then his dad’s coming back for them and waiting for two hours,” Kris Wolfe said.

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